If you think you’re too old to hit a nightclub or if you think club hopping for moms is only for celebrating the big 3-0 or 4-0, think again. I know a place in town where you feel like you’re at a rave, but you’re really eating Chick-fil-A at 11:30 with your kids.
The SouthPark food court.
Have you been recently? Well, if you haven’t, here’s fair warning: ditch the mom sweatpants and wear your best club attire (not that you’d find much club attire in the stores at SouthPark) because it’s the closest thing any mom is gonna get to a night life. Music is blaring, videos are streaming, and music trivia with offers to text the correct answer are popping up left and right.
About 20 years ago, I would’ve LOVED this and never thought anything of it (actually, I can still answer most of the trivia…ah yea, still got it). But now I don’t know whether to cover my 7-and-8-year-olds eyes in fear of what might pop up on the TV screens or clear the food, get on the table and start dancing. What I do know is that I’m a little worried that Buddy, my sweet Chick-fil-A angel, might be replaced by a Hooter’s girl…and I’m also worried my 8-yr-old daughter would be more likely to ask for her autograph over Buddy’s because she looks more like the women in the videos blaring on the TVs ahead.
The strangest part is this is all happening at lunchtime.
Let’s get this straight -there are basically four groups at the SouthPark food court at lunch during the week: moms with preschool-aged kids – or school-aged with a hall pass, men and women with ID badges from SouthPark area offices, retired peeps, and occasionally a group of lucky high school seniors who gets to go off campus for lunch. I think the last group is the only one interested…but they’re way more into texting each other than actually texting the codes that pop up on the TV screens.
Who is their target market here? Because it doesn’t take a genius to see they’re way missing it with the lunch crowd.
I am sure it’s all about money – I’m not exactly sure how it’s made with the videos but it’s got to be profitable for the mall. But can’t they take a cue from Cosmo’s and be strait-laced during the day, and wait till dark to club it?
And let’s be clear – this is not an attack on SouthPark – I know it’s like this in malls all over the country. It’s more like a cry for help. I love SouthPark, and like a middle schooler with an identity crisis, I want to save it from itself.
SouthPark is like coming home to me. I’ve gone there since the day I was born – some of my earliest memories are of getting on my tippy-toes to choose my fave flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins, walking on the creaky floor in Intimate Book Shop to get a new book, trying on Easter dresses at Children’s World in Ivey’s. My childhood parakeet, cat, and dog were all from the pet store at SouthPark, and I spent my hard-earned allowance on candy at Woolworth’s. It’s the place I’d take my babies to stroll when it was too hot, too cold, or just too boring to be by ourselves at home all day.
That mall has seen me through every fashion trend in the last 35 years – from Jordache rainbow-striped jeans to Trocadero t-shirts. From leggings at Units to leggings at Lululemon. From Accessory Lady to Tiffany’s (actually, it’s more like Claire’s for me, but a girl can dream). I mean, I even spent an entire night (yes, OVERNIGHT) with my fellow college peeps prepping the then-newly renovated GapKids to open in the late 90s. Now if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
Now I can’t hear my kids talk to me over a simple lunch of chicken nuggets. We just stare at each other – they chew really slowly, and I pray for only partial nudity in Maroon 5’s latest video. And if I wanted to live in constant fear over what crazy outfit Beyonce or Britney was going to be wearing, I’d let them watch MTV 24/7. It’s just not happenin’ folks.
And don’t get even get me started on the kiosk peddlers. Are we in the Jamaica or what? This is Charlotte – we are friendly here – I wave, say hi, or at the very least make eye contact with every person I run by on the Greenway. But at SouthPark (my safe place!) I now look straight ahead, start running faster than I do on the Greenway, and try not to react when they ask me to straighten my hair. I try so hard to be nice, but I’m about to snap – and just ask my kids, you don’t want me to snap.
I HAVE STRAIGHT HAIR….and a toddler who is RUNNING AWAY FROM ME. Does he really think I will stop and get my hair straightened? Now, if he wanted to braid my hair in a million braids with beads on the end AND provided free childcare, a chaise lounge chair, and a margarita, I’d be sold. But, last time I checked, that wasn’t the offer.
So peeps at SouthPark, if you’re listening (although I am not sure you can hear me with the music blaring in the food court and the kiosk peddlers swarming your brains with uselessness), please take it down a couple of notches. If it’s really all about the money, may I suggest a fountain in the food court? Trust me, with the rate we throw pennies, you’ll make up that cash in no time. And moms from all over the city will thank you – hey, we might even hit the SouthPark “club” (AND all your stores!$!$!) on a Saturday night – without the kids of course.